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More Cities Join LA in Asserting “Sanctuary” Status Despite Trump’s Plan to Take Away Funding

November 22nd, 2016 by Taylor Walker

Last week, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said the city would not work with President-elect Donald Trump on the mass deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants.

Trump has said that he will withhold major Department of Justice funding to “sanctuary cities” like Los Angeles where undocumented immigrants are not arrested solely for violating federal immigration laws.

Over the weekend, Reince Priebus, tapped by Trump to be chief of staff, told CNN’s Jake Tapper that Trump is looking into pulling funding from the sanctuary cities and counties—of which there are more than 300 nationwide.

Tapper asked Priebus about Los Angeles’ decision not to work with the feds to deport undocumented immigrants, while continuing to take in hundreds of millions of dollars in funding from the DOJ. While Priebus answered that the issue would be a “matter of negotiation,” he also argued that “the idea that a city would decide to ignore federal law, and then would want the federal government to help them anyway is an inconsistent position,” and “not the way life works.”

On Monday Mayor Garcetti called the Trump administration move a “mistake” that would lead to “social, economic, and security problems,” according to the LA Times’ Dakota Smith.

The LAPD will continue to follow Special Order 40, a 1979 mandate implemented by then-LAPD Chief Daryl Gates and the LA City Council, which prevents police from questioning people with the sole intention of determining their immigration status, Garcetti said last week.

The conservative Gates (and every chief who has come after) embraced the mandate, which was put in place so that undocumented immigrants could feel safe reporting crimes and otherwise engaging with law enforcement without the fear of deportation.

The city of Los Angeles is expected to receive more than $500 million this fiscal year from the DOJ for port security, homeland security, and combatting homelessness, among other important purposes.

“Every police department has to make decisions about how to best go about policing efforts, and most jurisdictions have decided that if local police are known to be enforcers, it harms their ability to police effectively,” Denise Gilman, director of the immigration clinic at the University of Texas School of Law, told the Washington Post.

In California, San Francisco, Alameda County, San Diego County, Santa Clara County, Riverside County also offer sanctuary to undocumented immigrants.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, flanked by city officials, promised that SF would remain a sanctuary city. “We promise to be a city that’s always welcoming,” said Lee. “There are no walls in our city.”

Mayors of other “sanctuary cities,” including Portland, OR, Seattle, and Chicago have made similar statements.

In a tweet, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio made his position clear. “I told the President-elect we’re ultimate city of immigrants & attempts to mass deport our people flies in the face of what makes NYC great.”

Mere hours after taking office in January, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney signed an executive order reclassifying the city as a sanctuary city.

Last week, Kenney reaffirmed the city’s stance. “I vow to uphold the Constitution of the United States by not holding people in jail without a warrant, which I think is in violation of the U.S. Constitution,” Kenney said.

Posted in immigration, LAPD | 6 Comments »

LA Police Commission Spends Full Meeting Discussing Report on Biased Policing

November 17th, 2016 by Taylor Walker

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Police Commission made an unusual decision to set aside a full meeting to discuss the issue of bias in law enforcement and a 143-page report from the LAPD that looks at how the department prevents and eliminates biased policing compared with agencies in Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, New York City, Philadelphia, Washington DC, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, and Seattle.

Back in September, the commission passed a motion by Commissioner Cynthia McClain-Hill directing department officials to collect information on how each department defines biased policing or racial profiling, the number of complaints against officers and how many of those complaints were upheld, as well as how many sworn each department has and the demographics of the cities they police.

McClain-Hill introduced the report after an Internal Affairs Quarterly Report revealed that the department had—once again—not upheld any complaints of biased policing, which includes a racial, gender, disability, anti-LGBTQ, and other forms of discrimination. During the first half of 2016, there were 209 reports of bias, none of which were sustained. And since 2013, none of the more than 1500 civilian complaints of bias have been substantiated by the LAPD.

Tuesday’s meeting was held at city hall instead of the usual location within the LAPD’s headquarters in order to fit the standing room only crowd.

According to the report, the LAPD has made “significant strides over the past decades” toward stamping out discriminatory police work “that damaged its relationship with communities and compromised the legitimacy of policing in Los Angeles.”

The report points to a number of reforms that the department has implemented, including updating training, developing the Community Safety Partnership (CSP) program in 2001, and prioritizing constitutional policing, in part by bumping the civilian position of Special Assistant for Constitutional Policing to the level of Assistant Chief.

Also included in the report, was a survey of 2000 residents that found under half of African Americans see LAPD officers as honest and trustworthy, compared with nearly three-quarters of white respondents and 71% of Latinos and 68% of Asians. When asked if LAPD officers treat people of all races fairly, less than half of the respondents said yes.

KPCC’s Frank Stoltze says the LAPD report “suggests any problem with bias is more a public perception than a reality.”

It’s hard to prove that a cop “was motivated or specifically intended to discriminate against a suspect based on the suspect’s race, ethnicity, or another protected characteristic,” the report reads. The department is able to take action when a racial slur or other explicit evidence of bias is involved. And, according to the report, LAPD officials have taken action—including termination—in instances of inappropriate remarks or “observable” discriminatory conduct. Implicit bias, however, is harder to prove, the report says.

Of the 10 agencies the LAPD looked at, only San Diego, San Jose, and Washington DC had sustained any allegations of bias in the last five years.

For further reading, the LA Times’ Kate Mather, Cindy Chang and James Queally have more on the issue.

Posted in LAPD | 2 Comments »

Chief Says LAPD Won’t Work with Trump on Mass Deportations, Texting Probation Officers, and LA’s Still Short on Foster Care Beds

November 15th, 2016 by Taylor Walker

LAPD CHIEF, LA MAYOR SAY THE CITY WILL NOT HELP DONALD TRUMP DEPORT UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS

The LAPD will not change its immigration policies to help fulfill President-elect Donald Trump’s promise to deport millions of immigrants, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said Monday.

The police chief told the LA Times that his department will not “engage in law enforcement activities solely based on someone’s immigration status,” or work with Homeland Security on any efforts to ramp up deportations. “That is not our job, nor will I make it our job.”

The LAPD will continue to follow Special Order 40, a 1979 mandate that prevents police from questioning people with the sole intention of determining their immigration status, said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. And, if faced with hostility toward the people of Los Angeles, “we will speak up, speak out, act up, and act out,” the mayor said.

Special Order 40 was implemented by then-LAPD Chief Daryl Gates along with the LA City Council, so that undocumented immigrants could feel safe reporting crimes and otherwise engaging with law enforcement without the fear of deportation. Under the mandate, officers are not to arrest or book anyone solely for violating immigration law.

In addition to Donald Trump’s “first 100 days” promise to immediately start deporting more than two million undocumented immigrants is Donald Trump has also vowed to take away US Department of Justice grants from cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco for their “sanctuary city” status.

The LA Times’ Kate Mather and Cindy Chang have the story. Here’s a clip:

During Beck’s tenure as chief, the department stopped turning over people arrested for low-level crimes to federal agents for deportation and moved away from honoring federal requests to detain inmates who might be deportable past their jail terms.

[SNIP]

“Our law enforcement officers and LAPD don’t go around asking people for their papers, nor should they,” [Garcetti] said. “That’s not the role of local law enforcement.”

Capt. Jeff Scroggin, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, said it is too soon to say how sheriff’s officials would react to any changes required by the Trump administration. Those changes could be tied to federal funding, he noted.

In the meantime, he said, sheriff’s deputies who patrol the county will continue their longstanding practice of treating all residents the same, regardless of background.

“We just want people to come forward so we have a better community. It doesn’t matter whether they’re an immigrant or going through the process of citizenship,” Scroggin said. “Whatever it is, we want to hear from them. We don’t want them to not cooperate. It’s important to keep the community safe. We never ask about immigration status.”


RIVERSIDE TESTING TEXT MESSAGING PROGRAM FOR PROBATION OFFICERS AND THEIR CLIENTS

The Riverside County Probation Department is testing a unique messaging program that allows probation officers to talk with their clients via text message. Senior Probation Officer Jaime MacLean has been testing the program, which is called CORE (Communicating Openly Requires Engagement), with her 30 clients since March.

Only three of MacLean’s clients have violated their probation in the months since March, compared with an average of around 3 violations per month that usually occur in caseloads of that size in Riverside.

MacLean says it has allowed her to engage with her clients in a way that she hadn’t been able to before that shows probationers that she cares about them and their success. Through the texting program, clients receive important updates, announcements for job fairs and other services, and can quickly communicate with their probation officer if they miss a meeting.

CA Fwd’s Nadine Ono has more on the promising program. Here’s a clip:

Part of building relationships with clients involves texting announcements and reminders for events such as job fairs, sending inspirational messages to lift their spirits in addition, checking-in as part of their probation, or allowing clients to text photos as proof of required activities.

The traditional way of communicating with clients is through phone calls and regular appointments, which is sometimes the only contact. And, if a client misses an appointment, unless he or she can connect by phone, the officer has no way of knowing what happened, which could lead to a violation.

McLean said the extra engagement is paying off. “They’re more willing to be honest via text message.” She explained that it is often hard for clients admit mistakes, such as using drugs or alcohol, over the phone or face-to-face. She added that sometimes clients will meet with her and say everything is OK, but then text her their problem after they leave the office.

“The whole point is trying to figure out how we can work on things together, instead of them feeling like they don’t want to come in and tell their probation officer what’s going on,” said McLain. “If they have a better relationship with me, they’re more willing to figure out what the next steps can be together.”

MacLean said she has one client with bad anxiety who is uncomfortable sitting in the waiting room. With the ability to text, the client can let her know when he has arrived, so that she can meet him at the door and bring him directly to the office. “Otherwise,” she said, “he just wouldn’t show up.” And not showing up could lead to a violation and possibly back in jail.


AS CA MOVES TOWARD ELIMINATING LONG-TERM GROUP HOMES, LA COUNTY STILL STRUGGLES TO BOOST AVAILABLE PLACEMENTS FOR FOSTER KIDS

A recent report from the LA County Department of Children and Family Services reveals that the county continues to struggle to find homes for kids in the foster care system.

While the number of children in foster care decreased by approximately 100, the number of open beds for foster kids also decreased by about the same amount.

DCFS has been working to increase the number of long-term placements with foster families as California moves toward a dramatic overhaul of the group home model slated to go into effect next year.

The Chronicle of Social Change’s Christie Renick has more on the report. Here’s a small clip:

The report also showed that there were 1,055 youth in group homes in 2015, a 4.4 percent increase over the year before.

California’s Continuum of Care Reform, which limits the amount of time a child or youth can be placed in a group home or congregate care facility, will take effect in January and will hasten the department’s efforts to find appropriate homes for older foster youth, who are often placed in residential institutions and small group homes.

Posted in Charlie Beck, children and adolescents, DCFS, Department of Justice, Eric Garcetti, Foster Care, immigration, LAPD | 11 Comments »

ACLU Takes on LA Over Gang Injunctions

October 26th, 2016 by Taylor Walker

The ACLU of Southern California has filed a federal complaint against the city of Los Angeles, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, and LA City Attorney Mike Feuer, alleging “unconstitutional enforcement” of gang injunctions against thousands of city residents.

Gang injunctions work like restraining orders, and are meant to keep groups of people from going certain places and participating in specific activities. If someone named in an injunction violates any of the restrictions that the injunction enforces, that person can end up in jail. (For WLA’s previous reporting on gang injunctions, go here and here.)

According to the complaint, the city’s 46 injunctions naming more than 9,000 individuals are “based on a unilateral and behind-closed-doors determination by police and city attorneys that [those included in the injunctions] are active participants in a street gang.”

Those named in injunctions are not given the chance to contest the city’s gang member label.

While gang injunctions can sometimes be useful tools to reduce gang violence in communities in crisis, when they are used carelessly or excessively, the human costs can outweigh the advantages.

Inclusion in an injunction can mean that being seen in public with family and friends, gathering on street corners, working with other residents from their neighborhood, possessing felt tip markers, or wearing certain clothes can result in an arrest.

“The city’s use of gang injunctions criminalizes young people of color, as evidenced by the fact that all 46 injunctions target black or brown communities,” said Kim McGill, organizer for the Youth Justice Coalition. “The police label people as gang members and strip them of their basic Constitutional and human rights, severely limiting their access to employment, education, housing and other essential services.”

The complaint was filed on behalf of the Youth Justice Coalition and two men who were included in gang injunctions.

Twenty-one-year-old Peter Arellano is listed in an Echo Park injunction that was put in place in 2013. Arellano’s father, brother, uncle, cousin, and some of his childhood friends are also reportedly part of the injunction. Arellano’s home, where he lives with his parents is within the “Safety Zone” of the injunction. This means that Arellano could get arrested even for being seen in his own front yard or porch with his dad, whom he lives with, because they would be associating within “public view.”

“Mr. Arellano has suffered and continues to suffer great harm as a result of being subject to the Echo Park injunction,” the complaint reads. “He feels that he is under house arrest.”

When Arellano was served with the injunction last year, it went into effect immediately, and he had no way of fighting his inclusion.

For the second plaintiff, 39-year-old Jose Reza, a gang injunction barring him from the Ramona Gardens neighborhood of Los Angeles has prevented him from picking up his son, who sometimes stays with family members there. It has also prevented him from taking union jobs with the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles to remodel housing projects because the jobs were located within the injunction’s “Safety Zone.” Reza, like Arellano, was not afforded a hearing to contest his designation by the city as a gang member.

“The LAPD and City Attorney’s office use gang injunctions to flaunt one of the most basic principles of fairness in American law,” said Carmen Iguina, staff attorney at the ACLU SoCal. “Police and prosecutors shouldn’t be able to decide to arrest a person for ordinary activity like walking down the street with a friend or drinking a beer in a restaurant, just because they think someone is a gang member. Due process means that the government can’t restrict a person’s freedom without a hearing or other opportunity to be heard.”

This isn’t the first time LA has run into legal trouble over gang injunctions.

Back in March, the LA City Council approved a $30 million settlement in a lawsuit accusing the LAPD of enforcing old gang injunction 10:00p.m. curfews that had been struck down years earlier, in 2007.

According to the terms of the settlement, over the next four years (and depending on how many of the thousands affected by the bogus curfew eforcement come forward) at least $4.5 million and as much as $30 million will go to job training, tattoo removal, and other programs to help people designated as gang members by LA injunctions.

Posted in Injunctions, LAPD | 2 Comments »

CA and TX Law Enforcement Agencies Failed to Report Hundreds of Fatal Uses-of-Force

October 14th, 2016 by Taylor Walker

Over a 10-year period, law enforcement agencies across Texas and California failed to report hundreds of fatal officer-involved shootings, according to research out of Texas State University in San Marcos.

“Those are the only two states that have required reporting to a central authority—in both cases, the Attorney General’s Office,” Howard Williams, one of the report’s authors, said in an interview on WNYC’s The Takeaway. Williams is a Texas State University professor (and former San Marcos police chief). Williams, along with a TX State colleague, Scott Bowman, and another co-author Jordan Taylor Jung, gathered data on killings by law enforcement officers in both states from news stories, press releases from police departments, and other outlets.

The researchers found that California was missing about 440 (30%) of the total officer-involved fatal shootings between 2005-2015. Agencies in Texas failed to report around 220 deaths.

Brenda Gonzalez, the California Attorney General’s Office press secretary, acknowledged that “discrepancies” were found, and that the AG’s office is “following up with the appropriate agencies.

Between the two states, the LA County Sheriff’s Department was the agency with the largest number of un-reported fatalities.

The LASD’s spokeswoman, Nicole Nishida, told the Houston Chronicle’s Lise Olsen (who broke the story) that many of the department’s 34 missing fatalities were due to a “clerical error” caused by a switch in reporting forms. Four deaths between 2013-2014 were reportedly not connected to that administrative error, however.

Following the LASD, the Fresno Police Department had 24 deaths that were not reported to the AG’s Office between 2005-2015. After that, the Los Angeles Police Department failed to report 21 fatalities, the Houston PD missed 16 deaths, and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department and Harris County Sheriff’s Department (in TX) each left out 12 officer-involved deaths.

The rest of the departments had fewer than 10 missing cases each.

Here’s a clip from the Houston Chron story:

Failure to report hundreds of deaths – because police officials ignored or misunderstood the reporting laws – has effectively undermined ongoing efforts to identify the causes of fatal police shootings and identify potential reforms, experts said.

“We’re not really blaming anyone – this is an incredibly complex problem,” said Williams, who began his research after retiring as police chief in San Marcos last year. “But it’s really hard for us to go back and change policy, improve training or purchase new equipment “when you simply lack the data to even know what’s going on.”

[SNIP]

In addition to requiring reports on use-of-force and in-custody death, both California and Texas also recently passed new laws requiring departments to report all shooting incidents, whether those shot survive or die. In Texas, the new police shooting law took effect in 2015 and the attorney general’s office has contacted all departments and tried to boost compliance with both laws, said Kayleigh Lovvorn, an office spokeswoman. But enforcement falls to individual district attorney’s offices.

The Texas State study cited a dozen fatalities unreported by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. One of those involved the 2015 death of a 24-year-old shot by an off-duty deputy outside the Chapa nightclub in northwest Houston.

A sheriff’s spokesman, Ryan Sullivan, said the homicide happened in Houston and was investigated by HPD. But under Texas law, the officer’s employer generally files a custodial death report and the sheriff’s office did not do so. Sullivan said that was the only report that had not been filed under Sheriff Ron Hickman, who took office in May 2015.

Brenda Gonzalez, a spokesman for the California Attorney General’s Office, said via email that the office already has been asking police agencies to file missing reports as part of a new OpenJustice data portal initiative, but she emphasized that California’s custodial death law has “no explicit enforcement mechanism.”

In all, 180 California different police agencies failed to file reports on citizens shot and killed by police. Fresno Deputy Chief Robert Nevarez pledged that his department would belatedly provide missing custodial death reports for 24 deaths. He said analysts in his agency unintentionally misinterpreted state law for years, wrongly assuming it applied only to jail deaths and not officer-involved shootings.

“At this time, it doesn’t look like anything intentional or malicious – it was an interpretation of what should have been reported,” Nevarez said.

Posted in LAPD, LASD, law enforcement | 1 Comment »

LAPD Commission Wants More Training, Transparency

October 12th, 2016 by Taylor Walker

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Police Commission approved proposals from the commission’s president, Matt Johnson Commissioner Sandra Figueroa-Villa that aim to reduce fatal use-of-force and increase transparency after officer-involved shootings.

The commissioners voted to increase role-playing training that employs tense, real-world scenarios to help officers practice de-escalation. Commissioners also want the LAPD to gather public input on whether to a video of a shooting should be released. Figueroa-Villa pointed out that following a shooting, community members often have questions about the circumstances of the fatal use-of-force and whether it was necessary. “I believe transparency is vitally important in addressing those concerns,” said Figueroa-Villa.

Commissioners also approved a proposal to speed up the public release of information about incidents. The proposals were inspired by an 38-page report from the Office of the Inspector General.

The OIG traveled to Las Vegas, Dallas, San Diego, and Washington DC to examine those police departments’ policies on use of force, investigations, and training compared with those of the LAPD.

The Inspector General found that the LAPD limits information released after a shooting to details like time and location, the reason officers responded, and the condition of officers and suspects involved. The report found Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) is far more transparent following officer-involved shootings, releasing a good deal of information—quickly—to the public. Around 48 hours after a shooting, the LVPD publicly releases names, ranks, tenure, and ages of involved officers.

By day three, the LVMPD undersheriff conducts media briefing with a presentation that includes basic information about the incident, 911 call recordings, and video evidence, as well as detailed account of the officer-involved-shooting and the events leading up to the shooting, including what weapon was used, how many rounds were fired, and whether body cameras were equipped and turned on. The LVPD presentation also includes photos of the crime scene “with the locations of the parties and the distances between them marked,” and evidence recovered from the location.

The Dallas PD, Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), and the LVPD require officers to exhaust all reasonable alternatives before using deadly force. The LVPD specifically uses de-escalation language in its use-of-force policy: “When use of force is needed, officer will assess each incident to determine, based on policy, training and experience, which use of force option will de-escalate the situation and bring it under control in a safe and prudent manner.” While the LAPD teaches recruits to exhaust non-lethal force options before employing deadly force, that concept was removed from the department’s use-of-force policy when it was revised seven years ago.

LAPD officials now have 90 days to report back with policies addressing the commission’s proposals.

Posted in LAPD | No Comments »

In Los Angeles Community Anger Erupts Over Two Weekend Shootings – UPDATED

October 3rd, 2016 by Celeste Fremon



Saturday’s fatal shooting of 18-year-old Carnell Snell Jr.—known as CJ—by officers of the Los Angeles Police Department
has sparked two days of demonstrations and vigils by community members who viewed the shooting as yet another example of officers too quick to fire on black and Latino men in tense situations.

The protests caused a citywide tactical alert to be called just before 10 p.m. Sunday night. Officers described the original Sunday protests and vigils as “peaceful,” but said that the mood changed when individuals whom they described as “outside agitators” arrived and, according to the police, began jumping on the roofs of cars, and engaging in other forms of vandalism.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck announced Monday that Snell was shot and killed after he allegedly turned toward officers with a gun in his hand. According to Beck, a loaded .40 mm handgun was recovered a few feet from Snell’s body. The gun had not been fired. (SEE UPDATE BELOW)

The officers involved were not wearing body cams according to Beck.

The incident began when officers cruising in the area of 108th Street and Western Avenue saw a car they thought might be stolen, and followed the vehicle, which was a light blue Nissan, and appeared to have one passenger, which they now believe was Snell. When Snell and the driver bailed from the car and took off in opposite directions, officers pursued Snell. Various neighbors and Snell’s sister, Trenell Snell, claim to have seen part of the pursuit that led to the shooting, which took in back of a house on 107th Street.

Hot-running emotions over Snell’s death were further stoked by the death of a Latino man shot by officers around 5 p.m. on Sunday, after police responded to a report of a male with a gun near 48th Street and Ascot Avenue. The gun, which the man allegedly pointed at officers, turned out to be an orange-tipped replica, the tip of which had been colored black, according to police accounts.* In the case of the second shooting, officers reportedly did have operational body cameras.

Beck described the investigations of Snell’s death, and that of the man killed in the Sunday shooting, as “fluid and ongoing.”

Reporters and other observers who examined the scene of Snell’s shooting in the backyard of a home in the 1700 block of 107th Street said they observed multiple bullet holes in the side of the house and another hole in an ajacent window.


UPDATE:

Due to conflicting stories about whether or not Carnell Snell was carrying a gun during his run from police, on Tuesday Chief Charlie Beck released a short surveillance video that reportedly depicts Snell a few moments before he was shot. Snell is running in the parking lot of a convince store before disappearing behind the store building. A gun can clearly be seen in his hand. Police can be seen running after Snell after he disappears from view.

After the release of the video, Tuesday morning’s police commission meeting was repeatedly disrupted by upset protester, who shouted that if the LAPD could release this video, they could release others. At the same meeting, commission president Matt Johnson stated that, within two weeks, he will recommend a process for the commission to evaluate the Los Angeles Police Department’s video policy, reported the LA Times’ Kate Mather, who was tweeting from the meeting.


NOTE: LA Times reporters Kate Mather, Cindy Chang, Matt Hamilton and James Queally have been following the situation with multiple stories including those here and here and here.


The photo of Carnell Snell Jr. was acquired from Facebook.


*CORRECTIONS: Monday, 3:50 pm: In an earlier draft we incorrectly wrote that the tip of the replica gun was still orange. It was painted or colored black prior to the time of the shooting.

Monday, 6:40 p.m. We also left out the fact that the allegation that Snell had a gun and, more importantly, that he pointed the gun at police, is just that: an unproven allegation. The oversight has since been corrected.

Posted in LAPD | 30 Comments »

Since 2013, No Complaints of Biased Policing Have Been Sustained by LAPD

September 16th, 2016 by Taylor Walker

LAPD COMMISSIONER WANTS “REAL AND MEANINGFUL DIALOGUE” ABOUT BIAS WITHIN THE DEPARTMENT

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Police Commission passed a motion calling for an in-depth look at how the LAPD deals with bias complaints from citizens. Commissioner Cynthia McClain-Hill introduced the motion after an Internal Affairs Quarterly Report revealed that, once again, the department has not upheld any complaints of biased policing, which includes a racial, gender, disability, anti-LGBTQ, and other forms of discrimination.

According to the latest IA report, there were 209 reports of biased policing in the first half of 2016, none of which were sustained. In fact, none of the more than 1,500 citizen complaints of bias since 2013 have been upheld by the department.

The motion directs department officials to compare the LAPD’s results and complaint-handling processes with those of police departments in Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, Dallas, and Baltimore. Department officials will collect information on how each department defines biased policing or racial profiling, the number of complaints against officers and how many of those complaints were upheld, as well as how many sworn each department has and the demographics of the cities they police.

Officials are to report back to the commission at a community meeting to be held on November 1.

“My goal here is to get us beyond the limitations, which seem obvious, of relying on a single metric, that is to say just the numbers captured” by the quarterly IA reports, McClain-Hill said.

The motion also seeks information on how the LAPD identifies bias in potential officers during the recruitment process, and what kind—and how many hours—of training recruits in the academy receive regarding biased policing and implicit bias. McClain-Hill also requests a status update on implicit bias training provided to active officers.

While McClain Hill said she hopes for “real and meaningful dialogue to serve as the basis for real and meaningful policymaking, she also stressed that the focus on bias does not imply that officers are showing up to work “for any reason other than to do the very best they can protecting this city.”

Posted in LAPD, Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

A Police Commission Nominee…and Prison Strikes

September 13th, 2016 by Taylor Walker

LA MAYOR TAPS LIBERTY HILL PREZ FOR LA POLICE COMMISSION SEAT

On Monday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti nominated Shane Murphy Goldsmith to replace outgoing Kathleen Kim on the LA Police Commission.

Goldsmith is a member of the LA Homeless Services Authority Board of Commissioners, the President and CEO of Liberty Hill Foundation, and co-chair of the California Executive Alliance for Boys and Men of Color in Southern California.

Before Goldsmith started working at Liberty Hill, she worked under (then) City Council President Eric Garcetti, as a senior advisor, and focused on housing, public safety, the budget, and LGBTQ issues. Goldsmith also served as the executive director of an affordable housing development group called PATH Ventures.

Goldsmith has “a well-earned reputation for fair-mindedness, and a deep sense of compassion that informs everything she does,” Mayor Garcetti said. “She is a thoughtful leader who has worked closely with the officers who serve L.A.’s neighborhoods, and who truly understands the urgency of conversations about the future of law enforcement, how and when deadly force should be used, and strengthening trust between the LAPD and communities of color.”

Kim, who is stepping down after serving on the commission for three years, is a law professor and expert on immigration and human trafficking.

Garcetti praised Kim for “fighting to protect and improve the LAPD’s relationship with L.A.’s immigrant communities, and playing a key role in developing the Department’s homelessness policy.”

The LA City Council still has to officially confirm Goldsmith to the commission.


INMATES KICK OFF MASSIVE NATIONWIDE PRISON STRIKE OVER PRISON SLAVERY

On Friday, the 45th anniversary of the 1971 Attica Prison riot in New York, inmate workers launched a nationwide labor strike.

Prisoners across the US are conducting a coordinated protest against conditions inside America’s prisons, including forced prison labor that either doesn’t pay inmates anything at all, or pays them pennies per hour.

The strike was largely organized by the Free Alabama Movement, a prisoner-led human rights group, which designated Friday, September 9, as a National Day of Solidarity to End Prison Slavery. All inmates at Holman Prison, FAM’s main hub, peacefully declined to show up to their prison jobs Friday, leaving officers to take on the work.

“To every prisoner in every state and federal institution across this land, we call on you to stop being a slave, to let the crops rot in the plantation fields, to go on strike and cease reproducing the institutions of your confinement,” the FAM leaders write.

Inmates are reportedly striking in 40 correctional facilities in 24 states including California. The strikers are joined by people protesting and rallying in cities nationwide including Portland, Los Angeles, Oakland, Phoenix, Atlanta, and Chicago.

Writing for Vice and the Influence, formerly incarcerated writer Jeremy Galloway has more on the ongoing strikes. Here’s a clip:

Prior to the official strike kickoff, inmates at Holmes Correctional Institution, in the Florida panhandle, led an uprising that forced the facility to be shut down. More than 400 inmates participated in that rebellion, which the prison administration has linked to the national strikes.

As the list of facilities involved expands, the South continues to lead the way. Prisoners in multiple Alabama prisons, at least two other Florida prisons, Fluvanna women’s prison in Virginia, and prisoners in North Carolina and South Carolina all reportedly engaged in various forms of resistance. Most Georgia prisoners don’t work on Fridays, but some on-the-ground reports indicate that they plan to join the actions when their work week begins today (September 12).

But the South does not stand alone. More than 400 prisoners at Kinross Correctional Facility, Michigan, held a protest on the prison yard and caused property damage to the prison, prompting officials to transfer 150 of them to other facilities. Clallam Bay Correctional Center in Washington State is also said to be on lockdown after actions there.

Many women prisoners are involved: Those held at Central California Women’s Prison, a women’s prison in Nebraska, at Lincoln (Nebraska) Correctional Center, a women’s prison in Kansas, and at Merced Jail in California have either refused to work, are on hunger strike, and/or have led uprisings in their facilities, I’m told.

It’s significant that so much of the resistance is focused on women’s facilities (although this certainly isn’t without precedent: The 1974 Bedford Hills and 1975 North Carolina Correctional Institute for Women uprisings are two of the most significant events in US prison history). Women, especially young women of color, make up the fastest-growing corrections population, at least in local jails. And the history of resistance in US women’s prisons continues to rapidly unfold, even if the media pays it little attention.

The actions haven’t been limited to jails and prisons, either. Friends, family, and supporters of incarcerated people took to the streets across the country to express solidarity and support for the strikes. Atlanta, Arizona, Portland, Lucasville (Ohio), Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, St. Louis, New York, Providence, Richmond, Durham, Austin, Denver, Los Angeles, and plenty of other large and small US cities have seen protestors, sometimes numbering into the hundreds, take to the streets or picket prisons.

In Atlanta, where I live, about 50 people disrupted business Friday at Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Aramark—companies that have been accused of exploiting barely compensated incarcerated labor—during street protests. According to witnesses, police responded by trying to run over protesters and dousing protesters, bystanders, and one another with pepper spray.

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Questions Raised by Video Showing Body Being Moved in LAPD Shooting

September 2nd, 2016 by Celeste Fremon


In February Los Angeles Police officers shot and killed a Boyle Heights
sixteen-year-old named Jose Mendez. According to the police, was driving a stolen car and carrying a sawed off shotgun.

The Los Angeles Times reported back in February that, according to Chief Charlie Beck, a description of the stolen car had been broadcast to LAPD officers. Several hours later, cops from the Hollenbeck station spotted the stolen vehicle and began following the car and its driver. The car pulled over and sixteen-year-old Mendez allegedly armed himself with a sawed off shotgun.

In a later account, an LAPD spokesperson said that Jose Mendez pointed the gun at one of the police officers, at which point police shot the sixteen-year-old multiple times and he died at the scene.

Now LA Weekly reporter Jason McGahan has broken the news about a surveilance video that has surfaced showing officers dragging Mendez’ body immediately after the shooting, from the private driveway where he was shot, down the sidewalk a distance of approximately 30 feet, for reasons that are unclear.

Attorney Arnoldo Casillas, who is representing Jose Mendez family in a civil suit, shared the video with the Weekly on the condition that they agreed not to publish the video itself online. But the publication was allowed to excerpt screen shots for publication

Here’s a clip from the Weekly’s story:

The video in question — which Mendez’s parents, Juan and Josefina Mendez, discovered the day after the shooting while visiting the scene with Casillas — was filmed by a security camera from a nearby apartment complex. Looking north to an area on the downhill slope of East Sixth Street, the video captures the black Honda Mendez was driving coming to a stop in a residential driveway. Immediately, a patrol car pulls in behind it. The glare from the cruiser’s headlights obstructs the camera’s view of the shooting, but in the last clear sequence prior to the shooting, at 10:42 p.m. on the video timestamp, two officers can be seen rapidly exiting the patrol car, their guns drawn and pointed.

The officers quickly climb out of the patrol car and appear to point their weapons toward the vehicle with Mendez still at the wheel. One officer circles around to the right of the parked Honda, and the other to the left. The police car’s lights obscure the rest of the incident from view.

Four and a half minutes later, at 10:46 p.m according to the video timestamp, two police officers are shown dragging Mendez’s body by the shoulders down East Sixth Street and laying him face-down on the sidewalk, about 30 feet away from the driveway where the traffic stop was conducted and the shooting had taken place moments before.

After officers dragged Mendez’ body, the video then shows one officer fishing what appears to be a cell phone out of the boy’s pocket, after which time, another officer handcuffs him. More officers arrive. Mendez does not move, nor does anyone appear to check his condition.

So, what if anything does this video mean? The Weekly talked to several experts to whom they showed the video. These experts gave various circumstances that could necessitate the moving of a body at the scene of such an incident. However, none of those circumstances seemed to be in evidence after the Mendez shooting.

One a former prosecutor, a deputy district attorney for Riverside County named Ambrosio Rodriguez, told McGahan, “I was in many officer-involved shootings, when [the victim or victims] were dead, and they’re treated like a homicide scene. There’s lots of little differences, but you cannot move a body. That’s tampering with evidence. You can’t do that…”

LAPD officials have not yet commented on the video.

Read the rest of the Weekly’s story here.


Photo by Scott L, Wikimedia Commons

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